Monday, January 17, 2011

Join Our Adventure: August 27-September 3, 2011

Join me for an amazing adventure in the heart of Tuscany, Italy, next autumn!
We'll explore the region of Cortona (made famous by the film Under the Tuscan Sun), enjoy fine wine and cuisine, make beautiful jewelry inspired by the ancient Etruscans, spend a day in Florence (shopping, museums, art, the David!), learn to cook like an Italian gourmet, and have the time of our lives.
Price: $2,949 per person for a PRIVATE room & bath, ALL MEALS with WINE INCLUDED!
Excursions to Florence and Montepulciano, authentic Tuscan cooking class, workshop instruction, plenty of copper wire, plus some extra goodies: ALL INCLUDED in this price!
$100 discount available for students sharing a room!

August 27, 2001 (Saturday)
Our adventure begins with our arrival in Cortona, Italy!
Cortona is easily accessible by train from the large gateway cities (such as Rome, Milan, and Florence) that you are most likely to fly into.
Arrive in time to unpack and get settled, and join us for a wine and chocolate tasting reception at 7:30 pm, followed by our Welcome Dinner in Cortona.
August 28, 2011 (Sunday)
We'll truly begin our adventures by visiting the Cortona antiques market right after breakfast. Some of my finds from past shopping trips here have included vintage keys and foreign coins, antique buttons and chandelier crystals, even some old costume jewelry (to take apart, of course!) and other small collage materials, otherwise known as found objects. We'll also look for game pieces and little toys, tins, boxes, Ex Votos, Italian postcards and small books — whatever we can scrounge up for making arty jewelry is fair game.
You may also attend church services in town (in Italian), sleep off your jet-lag, or take a leisurely stroll about the area, which is lovely with breathtaking views of the Tuscany region including lake Tresimeno. Bring your camera!
Join us for a leisurely lunch in town before we begin our first workshop:
The Swirl Stick Pin can be made in copper, sterling silver, fine silver, or gold-filled wire (your choice). We'll spend the afternoon (from about 3 to 7 pm) making a beautiful wire pin using beads, buttons, and any other small found-objects you may have picked up at the antiques market in town. This pin is an easy introduction to wire-art jewelry so if you're a beginner, no worries! We'll finish our beautiful brooches in time to wear them out to dinner. Wine tasting is at 7:30 pm, followed by dinner in Cortona at 8 pm.
August 29, 2011 (Monday)
In Cortona: Today we'll focus on the most important "wirework basics" that we all need as a foundation for our art. I will demonstrate basic eye-pin loops, jump rings, etc. and go over some design basics that will help you begin our first big project of the week: beaded Fleur Bangle bracelets.
I'll bring silk flowers for your use; but naturally this is optional if you prefer to fashion a beaded bracelet without them. You'll also learn to make a unique clasp and bead dangles, plus some really cute wire-based charms that could also be made into earrings or dangles for a separate bracelet or necklace. I'll help you make a beautiful treasure.
Join us for both lunch and dinner in Cortona; remember, ALL meals throughout the week are included in the price of your tour!
My "Metallo Del Fiore" bracelet is another option. I'll bring some copper sheet metal for us to cut and file, polish, hammer and texture, before riveting to a bracelet. Other options include making a pin instead, or a beautiful pendant. It's fun and not very difficult, I promise! We will also be using our found objects in this piece: vintage buttons, keys, tiny toys and other small objects are just some of the possibilities.
August 30, 2011 (Tuesday)
This morning after breakfast we'll take a half-day excursion to Montepulciano. This is a unique opportunity for us to explore a beautiful old Tuscan hill-town, take some photos, enjoy a leisurely lunch in town, and soak up some Italian inspiration. I'm going to bring my sketchbook and hope to find something unusual to inspire future jewelry designs.
After lunch we'll head back to Cortona for our afternoon's workshop: Earrings.
From about 3 to 7 pm we'll make at least one pair of beautiful earrings with handmade ear wires and dangles fashioned with wire, beads, found objects, etc. I'll help you with design choices, and teach you how to make your own wire ear hooks & hoops — you'll never buy these components again, once you know how to make them yourself.
We'll finish just in time to wear our creations to dinner (with wine, of course!) in Cortona.
August 31, 2011 (Wednesday)
Today we'll spend our time in Cortona, making beautiful and unique jewelry creations using the skills we've gained so far this week. Continue work on your earrings and bracelets, plus I'll also show you how to make a gorgeous brooch using vintage buttons and/or foreign coins picked up in the antiques markets. The picture below illustrates just one possibility among many:
My Vintage Button Brooch was fashioned with an old button (a flea-market find, naturally), copper wire, and some of my favorite beads plus more vintage buttons. A unique feature of this brooch is the handmade chain that I'll teach you how to make. For dangles, you may wish to use foreign coins, chandelier crystals, small game pieces or vintage toy parts — who knows? You may use just about anything to make a memorable piece of jewelry to commemorate your travels. We'll brainstorm the possibilities together!
All meals today will be held in Cortona. As a special treat, our dinner includes an authentic Tuscan meal demonstration and cooking lesson. Naturally, everything's included in your tour price.
September 1, 2011 (Thursday)
By this time, we'll need a break from jewelry-making. We've planned some of our most memorable excursions for this day! Beginning after breakfast with a short visit to the Camucia weekly market near the train station, afterward we'll board a train for a quick one-hour ride to the city of dreams: Florence!
I took this picture in Florence a few years ago and it never fails to bring back the essence of the city. You'll find an amazing amount of public art (including a small copy of the David) right out in the square, plus lots of beautiful fountains, unique buildings and facades, and famous art galleries and museums. Lots of shopping opportunities, photo ops, and inspiration for sketching (if that's your thing), plenty of walking. We'll look for the best flea markets going, and, time permitting, we'll explore the famous food market in the center of town.
Lunch together in Florence, dinner this evening in Cortona. No Workshops today!
September 2, 2011 (Friday)
This is our last full day together, and we'll make good use of our time by staying in Cortona for morning and afternoon workshops. We can work on bracelets, necklaces or earrings using wire and found objects to fashion memorable pieces. If you'd like to try some wire weaving to make a vintage-looking cuff, here's a picture of one I made using antique buttons:
I'll also show you how to artificially age your jewelry using liver of sulfur, plus polishing techniques. You may use your day to finish projects started earlier or make something new. I'll be with you the entire day, working with you to design something truly special. We'll have all our meals in Cortona, including a lavish farewell dinner at 8 pm.
September 3, 2011 (Saturday)
Our tour is officially over after breakfast. Addio, until next time!
But, I'm staying on in Cortona for the weekend so that I can take the train to Arezzo for its biannual antiques fair and Joust of the Saracen festival. If you'd like to join me, I'd be happy to take you along. We'll be independent travelers, each of us paying for our own meals, hotel stay (I recommend staying in Cortona, but this is up to you), and train fare to/from Arezzo each day.
If you saw the film Life is Beautiful, portions of it were filmed in this lovely city. This is a unique opportunity to shop the biggest (and some say the best) flea market in all of Europe, plus attend an amazing festival featuring men in tights (!) carrying flags, riding furiously on horseback. It doesn't get any more Italian than that...
If you'd like to stay on in Cortona for the weekend, let tour organizer Patrick Mahoney know of your intentions and he'll help you organize this. Here's a photo of Patrick and Angela, our hosts for the week:
Patrick & Angela
I’ve taught for Patrick Mahoney’s tour company, Toscana Americana, twice before with great success. Patrick is a very generous host, providing us with a clean, safe, centrally located hotel, delicious meals featuring fine Italian wines, and a wonderful workshop experience. He’s always available to ensure that we have a great time and to work out any difficulties that may arise. He arranges train fare and escorts us during all of our excursions, and he knows where all the best gelato can be found! If you’d like to contact Patrick directly, email him here: Patrick Mahoney.
Tour Registration
To register for this tour, first visit my page on the Toscana Americana Web site: TA.
The online enrollment form is found here: Register.
What to Bring
Once you've enrolled in the tour, you'll need to know what to bring for the workshops. I'm providing all the round, dead-soft copper wire needed to make our projects, but if you prefer to work in sterling silver or gold-filled wire, etc., you will need to bring your own. Contact me (email me by clicking here) and I will provide you with a basic supply list.
You will also need to bring a few beads in various sizes — not too many! — to add to your jewelry made with found objects. I'll be bringing some silk flowers, small antique buttons, waxed linen thread, and a few other goodies to share with everyone.
You will need to bring your own wire jewelry tools. I cannot bring tools for everyone, so each participant will need to bring a basic toolkit:
• Jewelry-quality pliers (small round-nose, long round-nose, chain-nose, flat-nose)
• Flush cutters suitable for cutting up to 14-gauge wire
• Chasing hammer or planishing hammer with a bowed (NOT FLAT) face
• Resin (hard plastic) or rawhide mallet
• Small (2-1/2 inch square) steel bench block
I'll bring a few specialty tools for everyone to share, including metal hole punches, dapping blocks, drill, etc. I also hope to find a butane torch in town (since I cannot fly with one!) for our use throughout the week. We'll also explore some patinas using liver of sulfur, ammonia, and other items. It's going to be a fun, full week of creativity!
Because we'll be making jewelry using "found objects" purchased at the flea markets, bring some extra cash to spend on small items as listed above. You never know what treasures are waiting to be found, and experience has taught me that if you see something that you like, you'd better buy it because you'll probably never see it again.
Any Further Questions?
If you have questions about this tour, you can reach me via email by clicking here.
Or email tour organizer Patrick Mahoney by clicking here.
We both welcome you to Cortona! It's going to be a magical time for us all.


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  2. This sounds like it would have been a fantastic adventure....are you hoping to repeat it in the future. Is there further blog news to how this adventure all panned out...would love to read more about it.